Seeing the world through the eyes of a giant is good for a change.
This year, I was among 50 young Latin American leaders participating at the World Economic Forum on Latin America. Most of us founded our start-ups or organizations within the last four years, many with good local or regional economic, social and environmental impact.
As we all grapple with the challenges of growth, competitiveness, fundraising and team-building, we rarely have a chance to imagine what it would be like if our initiatives were huge: How would our path be different if we were leading the company with the largest distribution reach in the world?
We had the rare opportunity to engage in a transformative conversation with two of
With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility
When he became CEO of The
Water is the primary resource
Women make up the majority of local distribution suppliers for
Giving Agency to Internal Leaders
Large scale projects with global impact make sense for a company the size of
Francisco Suarez of FEMSA shared how he experienced a moment of inspiration with William McDonough, an architect and innovator. After having a few inspiring conversations about the principles of design for the Circular Economy, they wondered how recycled PET could be converted into a vehicle for community empowerment. Their conversation over beers turned into a brainstorming session and later into a proposal to build structures that can provide shelter, solar power and internet connectivity to local
Believing in the power of individuals’ agency is key to empowering leadership within a large company.
The WonderShade would empower local entrepreneurs in up to 2.8 million points of sale in Mexico to grow their community through a Recycled PET structure powered by solar panels and equipped with internet connectivity. The potential is limitless when communities are connected – local leaders will then have a vehicle for developing new business opportunities, distribution channels for health, education and emergency services.
Fostering New Leadership
One of the aspects of our conversations that surprised Global Shapers the most is the company’s commitment to developing youth leadership – the company understands the challenges in finding more and new innovations for empowering communities, becoming more efficient with water, reusing their packaging and becoming more sustainable.
Knowing that innovations tend to come from those willing to take risks and operate in more independent settings, the company has become a pioneer in supporting young innovators across Mexico. Their Jovenes con Valor project supports the incubation of social and environmental innovations with sustainable business models through a partnership with an initiative led by a Global Shaper from Monterrey. The project helps young social entrepreneurs solve local community problems, but with a business model behind its operations, and in a structured incubation program. Creating opportunities for social entrepreneurs as new leaders results in transformation.
Beyond Corporate Social Responsibility: A Vision for a Global Company
It was a refreshing surprise to find so much passion about making positive change in the world from two corporate executives.
The dialogue felt refreshing, hopeful and horizontal – many of us left with a burning challenge – what would we do if one of us were leading one of the largest companies in the world? What would be different if a Global Shaper stood in those shoes? It is clear that we share a commitment to steering the ship towards sustainability and improving lives. In my case, I would promote affordable alternatives to high-sugar products by investing in more and better organic and nutritional beverage options. This is a direction in which the company is already taking steps in markets like the United States.
We share the same challenges as leaders, whether in our own local communities or behind an executive desk with the potential power to scale globally. Yet, we rarely have opportunities to share, in empathy, the toils of the responsibilities we have chosen to take on. Having had this opportunity at the World Economic Forum, I am reminded of Professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter’s words, which apply to young community leaders in the same way as it does to Muhtar Kent – “Leaders wake people out of inertia. They must get people excited about something they’ve never seen before, something that does not yet exist.”
Michelle Arevalo-Carpenter is the curator of the Global Shapers Quito Hub.
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